Two Men Charged With Homicide in Four Solebury Slayings
Two 20-year-old men have been charged with multiple counts of homicide in the slayings of four young area men on a sprawling Solebury Township property owned by the family of one of the suspects, Bucks County District Attorney Matthew D. Weintraub announced today.
Cosmo Dinardo (second photo), of the 900 block of Wayland Avenue, Bensalem, is accused of fatally shooting Jimi Taro Patrick, 19, of Newtown Township (third photo), on July 5, and burying him in a single grave on his parents' land.
Dinardo and Sean Michael Kratz (top photo), of the 800 block of Magee Avenue in Northeast Philadelphia, are both charged with the July 7 slayings of Dean Finocchiaro, 19, of Middletown Township (fourth photo); Thomas Meo, 21, of Plumstead Township (fifth photo); and Mark Sturgis, 22, of Pennsburg, Montgomery County (sixth photo). Their bodies were found Wednesday in a 12-foot-deep common grave elsewhere on the same property.
All four victims had been shot, according to a probable cause affidavit, which said both suspects gave incriminating statements to police on Thursday.
Dinardo and Kratz also face charges of robbery, abuse of corpse, possession of instruments of crime, and conspiracy. They were arraigned via videoconference this afternoon before Magisterial District Judge Maggie Snow of Buckingham, who ordered them held without bail.
The defendants are scheduled for a Sept. 7 preliminary hearing before Snow.
Their arrests capped a grueling, disturbing week for residents of a bucolic region, the first responders and investigators who serve them, and a nationwide audience that watched the investigation unfold via dozens of local and national media outlets.
"I feel a lot of sadness, I feel relief, I feel so proud of my team, and I feel resolved," Weintraub said at a news conference in Doylestown after the men were charged. "Although we've sped through this week and we've accomplished so much, we have so much more to do to bring justice in this case.
"I am very, very relieved to say that we've brought four young men one step closer to their loved ones so that they can rest in peace."
Each victim has been positively identified, Weintraub said, and their family members were briefed on details of the case this morning.
"I hope that I'm never in their shoes," he said of the relatives, who maintained a daily vigil at the search site. "But if I ever am, I hope and pray that I could handle this with the courage and dignity that they have exhibited. I'm just in awe."
Copies of charging documents in the case are attached below. They portray the suspects as gun-wielding cousins who drove or lured the victims to Solebury with the promise of marijuana purchases, and then inexplicably killed them shortly after arrival.
"I'm not really sure," Weintraub said when asked to explain the suspects' motives. "I don't know if we can ever answer that question."
When Patrick's remains failed to turn up in the common grave shared by the other victims, Weintraub offered to forego seeking the death penalty for Dinardo in return for information helpful to the investigation. That information led searchers Thursday night to Patrick's body, buried at least a quarter-mile from the others on what Weintraub described as a small mountain.
"We'd still be looking for Jimi Patrick had we not made this agreement," Weintraub said. "In addition, we gained very, very valuable intelligence and information that we did not have ... which allowed us to be able to charge co-defendant Sean Kratz.
"And finally, we were able to secure the two weapons that we allege were used in these four murders, so that they can never be used to hurt or kill anyone ever again."
According to the probable cause affidavit, Dinardo told investigators that he had agreed to sell Patrick four pounds of marijuana for $8,000. Dinardo said he picked him up at Patrick's home in Newtown on July 5 and drove him to the Dinardo property at 6071 Lower York Road in Solebury, the affidavit says.
When they arrived, Dinardo said, Patrick had only $800, so Dinardo offered to sell him a shotgun for that amount, the affidavit says. They walked to a remote part of the property, where Dinardo said he fatally shot Patrick with a .22 caliber rifle, according to the affidavit.
Dinardo then drove a backhoe that was on the property to where Patrick lay, dug a hole no more than 6 feet deep and buried him, the affidavit states.
On July 7, Dinardo told investigators, he had agreed to sell a quarter-pound of marijuana to Finocchiaro for about $700, the affidavit states. Dinardo first picked up Kratz, whom he described as his cousin, and drove to Finocchiaro's home in Middletown, agreeing on the way that they would rob him, the affidavit says.
Dinardo said he gave Kratz a .357 handgun belonging to his mother, and then drove all three to the Solebury property. According to the affidavit, he said Kratz shot Finocchiaro in the head as they were leaving a barn on the site. Dinardo told investigators he then took the gun and shot Finocchiaro a second time as the victim lay on the ground.
Also on July 7, Dinardo said he met Meo and Sturgis at a church parking lot in Peddler's Village, a short distance west of the Dinardo property on Route 202 in Lahaska, the court records say. Dinardo told investigators that he had a marijuana "deal" set up with Meo, according to the affidavit.
Dinardo told investigators that Meo and Sturgis followed him to the Solebury property in Meo's Nissan Maxima, the documents say. After parking the Nissan at 2827 Aquetong Road, Meo and Sturgis rode with Dinardo in his truck to the adjacent Lower York Road property, where Kratz awaited, the affidavit states.
After the men exited the truck, Dinardo said, he shot Meo in the back with the .357 handgun, then fired several times at Sturgis as he fled, felling him, the affidavit states. Dinardo said he then ran over Meo with the backhoe before using it to lift both bodies into a metal tank where he already had placed Finocchiaro's corpse, the court records say.
The following day, Dinardo told police, he and Kratz returned to the property, where Dinardo used the backhoe to dig a deep hole and bury the tank containing the three bodies, the affidavit says.
Kratz gave a similar statement to detectives on Thursday night, the affidavit says, but said that it was Dinardo, not him, who shot Finocchiaro.
At today's news conference, Weintraub paid tribute to the many investigators, searchers and volunteers who had assisted, including the Bucks County Detectives, numerous municipal police departments and fire companies across Bucks County, the Pennsylvania State Police, the FBI, the Philadelphia Police Department, the Central Bucks Crime Scene Unit, the Bucks County Sheriff's Department, the Montgomery County Detectives, the Montgomery County Police Academy and the American Red Cross, as well as community organizations, private citizens, businesses and other charitable organizations that provided food, drinks and supplies to those involved in the search efforts.
Staffers from the Network of Victim Assistance (NOVA) spent days on the site, supporting the families of the missing men during the search.
"I am proud of each and every one of you," Weintraub said. "When we asked for your help, you gave it.
"Our work is not done, but I will say this: It has been a pleasure to serve with you."